It is understood the rule change came into effect on Monday (Picture: SplashNews)
Travellers arriving in England from green and amber list countries may not be asked to provide proof of a negative Covid test at border control, it has been reported.
New leaked instructions issued to Border Force staff reportedly tell officers that they no longer have to routinely conduct Covid checks on passengers as of this week.
This means that officers will not have to verify whether arrivals have tested negative, have a test booked in the coming days in line with isolation rules, or provide a passenger locator form showing an address where they will quarantine.
According to The Guardian, the rule change came into effect on Monday – despite the Government making no legal changes to border control rules for Freedom Day.
Anonymous Border Force sources leaked the instructions to raise grave concerns over the shift in tacticts, at a time when daily Covid cases are surging to the same levels seen during the peak of the UK’s second wave.
It is understood the new rule is aimed at reducing queue times at airports, following ‘unacceptable’ and chaotic scenes in recent weeks at major airports like Heathrow.
The Government told the paper it would not comment on leaked documents but stressed that airlines were still legally required to carry out all necessary border control checks.
Under the current rules, all passengers arriving into the UK must provide a negative Covid test taken before departure – regardless of the country they are travelling from.
Passengers at Heathrow faced long queues on Monday July 15 due to security staff being told to self-isolate, the airport said (Picture: PA)
They must also conduct another test two days after their arrival, and complete a passenger locator form with details such as an address.
Those arriving from amber list countries must quarantine for 10 days – or five days if they test negative under the test and release scheme – as well as taking two tests.
From Monday, those who are double-jabbed and under-18s no longer have to isolate upon arrival.
Lucy Moreton, a professional officer for the Immigration Services Union (ISU) which represents UK border immigration and customs staff, confirmed the leak was true.
She told the BBC: ‘Ultimately this is a political decision.
‘Certainly, it will reduce queue times significantly and hopefully also the level of verbal abuse to which Border Force staff are subject.
Cases are rising in 97% of England with map revealing top five hotspots (Picture: Getty/Metro.co.uk)
‘That is welcome to us. The impact on the UK’s Covid security is ultimately a scientific determination.’
The leaked rule change comes as the US updated its travel guidance to warn Americans ‘do not travel’ to the UK amid spiralling cases.
Denmark also moved the whole of the UK – except Wales – to its travel red list.
Both Governments put the change in travel guidance down to the dramatic surge in cases, with 97% of the country seeing a spike in infections as the highly transmissible Delta variant continues to spread.
A Government spokesperson told The Guardian: ‘Our utmost priority is protecting the health of the public and our enhanced borders regime is helping reduce the risk of new variants being transmitted.
‘All passenger locator forms are still being checked by carriers, as they are legally required to do, and to suggest otherwise is wrong. This legal requirement on carriers is underpinned by a robust compliance regime, which is overseen by regulators.
‘Compliance with these rules is essential in order to protect the population from new variants of Covid-19, and so there will be tough fines for those who do not follow the rules.’
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